Cameras should not be mandatory

Marking students absent is unwarranted

Tenzin Gyaldatsang

With a distance model implemented at Park and many other schools across the nation comes a serious issue: Should turning cameras on be mandatory?

There are a variety of reasons why students turn off their cameras, from not having a camera on their devices or general privacy issues. Some students study in places where they’d rather not turn on their cameras, like their bedroom or in a public area. 

It is understandable for many students to decide not to have their camera on during class. The concern with this is that students might not be focused on what’s going on during class. Giving check-ins during class can ensure students are actively participating instead of making it mandatory to turn on their cameras during class time.

Students can only use their cameras if their devices have the system requirements to do so. For students without the necessary technology, it creates a loophole that they can’t get out of. 

Zoom fatigue, which is a phenomenon caused by the fact that online video calls are much more draining than in-person lessons should be taken into consideration. Zoom fatigue is caused by the extra effort made to appear engaged, whether that be intense focus or sustained eye contact. Turning cameras off reduces the overall anxiety related to virtual classes.

Privacy is also a concern for many students, as many attend classes in their bedrooms or other areas where they would rather not show the background. With a surge in “Zoombombing,” students’ privacy is reduced even more, whereas with in-person classes, students don’t have to worry about their privacy. 

I totally understand where teachers and staff are coming from. Teaching to a screen of blank squares for up to eight hours a day is difficult, as teachers aren’t able to gauge how students are feeling during class. But punishing students who decide to keep their camera’s off is unjust. 

Instead of punishing students who don’t have their cameras on, checking in with students at the end of class would be more effective. Giving exit slips or short questions to answer in the chat are simple yet help teachers know if students are understanding what is being taught.

At the end of the day, it’s the students’ choice whether they turn their cameras on or not. Reprimanding those who observe their decision is unwarranted, and change must be brought in order to benefit both sides.